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Going Greener by Going Bigger: Does it Work?

Busses are greener than cars, and apartment buildings are greener than houses. But is a 747 greener than a Cessna? Is an interstate greener than Route 66? Is a 55 inch flat screen greener than a 20 inch tube television? Is a cruise ship greener than a pontoon boat?

There's been some focus on going green by going bigger recently. But often, efficiency just becomes one more pathway to profligate waste. Let's take interstate highways as an example here, since they're both the solution to and discount cialis online cause of so many of our problems.

Let's say you wanted to move a 100,000 cars from one city to the next city before interstates. The gridlock would have been tremendous. Cars would have idled for days, travelling at low, inefficient speeds with start and stop traffic that would have wasted a huge amount of gasoline. With interstates, those 100,000 cars can speed along a seven lane highway at efficient speeds without ever tapping the low price cialis breaks. Highways are much more efficient.

Of course, before Atlanta had seven lane highways, no one was driving 60 miles to work every morning. The waste per mile driven has dropped dramatically, but much more dramatic is the rise in miles driven. In the end, interstates led us to build our cities in an extremely unstable way that I believe is responsible for a great deal of the current economic turmoil in the world, not to mention an unstable global climate.

This story re-plays itself over and over again. Technology lets us build more efficient televisions, so we make them gigantic. Technology allows us to build the Airbus A380, with room for 853 passengers, by far the most efficient plane per passenger mile, and suddenly a billion more people can afford air travel. Technology allows us to build a cruise ship that holds 6,300 passengers, transporting them with 30% less fuel per passenger, and there are 6,300 people eating crab cakes and surfing on artificial waves on a boat that's too big to dock anywhere in Europe.

Bigger is greener when you're replacing needs that were met inefficiently elsewhere. If you're getting someone on a bus instead of in a car, or in an apartment building instead of a house, that's greener. But if you're creating new and exciting ways for people to over-consume efficiently or, worse, unsustainable infrastructure that will only lead to an unstable future for our world, then bigger is better for someones wallet in the short term, but bad for us all in the end.
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Comments (16)Add Comment
Bigger is not necessarily Better by any means!
written by Maurizio Maranghi, December 07, 2009
I think the whole world needs to take a step back and re-evaluate our lifestyles, what's truly important, how we can sustain this planet that we have destroyed, and help one another once again. Life has just gone way over the top, and everyone's priorities really got out of wack. As many are jobless around the world, and life has definitely stopped as a result of the economic stutdown, this is definitely the time to rebuild our societies, our psyche's, and our priorities in a manner in which our children's, children's, children's grandchildren will have a planet that they are proud of.

-Maurizio Maranghi -
written by Ronald Brak, December 07, 2009
If people are required by law to pay for the pollution resulting from consumption, then our consumption will become much less environmentally damaging. For example, requiring people who release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to pay for their removal would stop global warming. With such systems constraining people from causing major damage to canadian pharmacy levitra generic the earth, people could then build big or small as desired without creating major problems.
Bigger Makes Smaller Better
written by GGTD, December 07, 2009
For the people who do want to save energy, technology advances allows people to keep the same size television that simply uses less power or drive a car in such a way that it will be less harmful in the environment. Technology has no soul, it's the people who use it.
written by Mike Sanders, December 07, 2009
It is old news, but I liked the just try! buying viagra without prescription quote " if there were 300 million of cheapest price on cialis us instead of 6 billion going on 9, we could all drive Hummers and it would not make an impact!". people are the problem, and people are the answer.
written by Train Shoe Rider, December 07, 2009
6 lines on a highway is a waste of space.
You only need 3.

One for trucks and slow vehicles, one for normal vehicles and a third one for overtaking slow cars.

Also, speedy trains are generally faster and more convenient on cialis best price have perscription distances over 100 Kilometers.
written by bed frame, December 08, 2009
What is more important is how we can sustain our planet's condition and also not to get worst. It is not about the size and which is better, it is how we live to help the planet.
written by valves manufacturer, December 08, 2009
With interstates, those 100,000 cars can speed along a seven lane highway at efficient speeds without ever tapping the breaks. Highways are much more efficient.
Highways and Cars
written by RunawayJim, December 08, 2009
Highways are a double-edged sword for exactly the reasons you explain. Here in southern New England, we tend to widen our highways to make room for more cars, even though studies show that if you make it bigger, more cars will use it rather than allowing the cars already using it to spread out.

One thing that you omitted from your article, however, is how cars are made. Back in the days prior to interstate highways, cars were not designed to cialis sales uk be efficient at higher sustained speeds. It wasn't until people started using highways all the time that car makers made cars designed to be more efficient at 55-65 mph. Had highways existed earlier, the gas usage would have been far worse as cars would have burned through fuel much faster to keep up with higher speed limits.

Car makers have finally realized that they need to make cars that run efficiently in both low speed stop and go traffic and only here buy viagra china at higher highway speeds. The only problem now is that the majority of highways have speed limits that allow people to drive faster than the ideal speed for fuel economy, which is between 55 and 65 for most cars.
Very interesting way of looking at things..
written by Jenn, December 08, 2009
BTW I love this blog. I think this is a great way of looking at what really is "greener." I wanted to pass this "very green" company along to you for a possible blog post in the future: They buy and recycle your old electronics and cell phones.
Personal consumption quotas
written by Chris Hooymans, December 10, 2009
Establishment of personal petro-product consumption quotas would go a long way to limit waste and to reign in the habits of the wealthy that seem to think going green is just another call to cialis pharmacy in india consumption. For instance, here's your 15 gallons of gas for the month. Use it wisely, or you might end up walking, taking a bus, carpooling or staying home.
Re: Highways and Cars
written by Sherwyn, December 14, 2009

That's a really good point. Highways eliminate traffic signals (regardless of online viagra without a prescription speed) which mean less fuel wasted, but if they lowered interstate speed limits, even less fuel would be wasted.
written by bill s, December 17, 2009
enjoyed the article, but "breaks" is what you take in the spring. "brakes" is what stops your car.
going bigger?
written by mike spark, December 17, 2009
I am a true believer that science and technology can save our hides. Everything that we make can be made much much more efficiently. Now I am not saying that we dont need to change our spending habits, but its not like we can afford to go from the ultra consumption society that we have today to simply going completely cold turkey. Imagine what that would do to our economy. We would all be unemployed and every country in the world bankrupt. We need to take steps - EVERY DAY - to take power away from the corporations that run nearly every facet of our lives, because they are the ones that want and encourage us to spend so recklessly on hummers and cheap viagra no prescription overnight apples that are grown half way around the world. We need to give power back to the people in tandem to giving the people a crash course in making sustainable not just a buzz word, but a lifestyle change that has to be made or we are just rushing headlong into making the Earth too toxic for our survival.
written by Miguel V., December 19, 2009
That effect is known as the Jevons paradox. The increase of efficiency leads to the best site generic cialis overnight increase in the consume. This effect is going to plague any technological advance in green (efficient) technologies.
written by Dankoozy, December 27, 2009
Still if 1bn more people can afford air travel that is a job well done.

All that is left is to get the A380 to run off sustainable fuels and we are sorted.

Unless your motive is actually to keep a large percentage of the population effectively banned from air travel
written by Fr. Cassian Sibley, December 28, 2009
This is a good restatement in layman's terms of Jevon's paradox. It is also why technological solutions to environmental problems so rarely have their intented effect. Environmental problems cannot be solved in terms of efficiency. We simply have to find a way back to a culture and civilization of low-tech sustainability. If we keep fooling ourselves into thinking we can solve this problem by the same method we created it in the first place we are doomed. The people who say "you can't go back" are never the people standing at the edge of the precipice, after all.

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